CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Do you feel like you live in a world of "mights?" This might happen, or that might happen. In reality, we all live in this world. It's just the way we handle the uncertainty that makes the difference.
Here's a clue. Do you freeze? Or run? Or agonize over every potential outcome?
Let's face it. Some of us are better at dealing with the unknown than others (a little shout out to my control freaks!). And it's definitely an uncertain world out there.
"The quality of our lives is directly related to the amount of uncertainty we can live with comfortably," says author and speaker Tony Robbins. Well, when it's put that way, uncertainty seems a bit more inviting.
So, how can we lessen the stress on ourselves -- not to mention the feelings of fear, anger and insecurity -- when dealt a hand of uncertainty?
First, we can start to focus on everything that could go right, rather than everything that could go wrong (which is often the first tendency). When you hear that nagging voice of doubt in your head, stop to label the emotion behind it. Suddenly, you've "disarmed" the hold that it has on you.
Here are a few tips from authors Lori Deschene and Erin Lanahan. According to Deschene, "happiness depends upon our ability to make friends with the unknown, to respect and enjoy it, and to fully embrace and welcome it." While that may sound a bit lofty, you could develop some discipline by practicing the following steps.
Dealing with uncertainty
1. Replace expectations with plans.
When you form expectations, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. You can guide your tomorrow, but you can't control the exact outcome. If you expect the worst, you'll probably feel too negative and closed-minded to notice and seize opportunities. If you expect the best, you may create a vision that's hard to live up to. (While I respect the author's caution flag here, I still come down on this side of the equation).
Instead of expecting the future to give you something specific, focus on what you'll do to create your experience. For example, if you're planning to relocate to Los Angeles, you could think of it in two ways: "If I move, I might enjoy L.A. Or I might be lonely." None of that is in your hands. What is in your hands is what you could actively do when you get there to make friends.
2. Prepare for different possibilities.
The most difficult part of uncertainty is the inability to feel in control. Until you know what city you're moving to, you can't plan what neighborhood you'd like to live in. You can plan for possibilities, though, by checking out yoga classes or golf courses in the general area. The challenge is to allow for some expression of interests, while staying flexible enough that you don't get the cart in front of the horse.
3. Whatever you need, ask for it!
In a seminar I attended we learned about the "Five Points of Power." The fifth one has always stuck with me: "Ask for what you want. All of what you want. Without withholding." It sounds so simple. And, yet, we expect people to read our minds sometimes.